Don’t hate on history (good or bad)

There are not a lot exciting things to do in Montgomery, Alabama. Sure, all cities have their standard options: food, bars, shopping, natural scenery, etc. Montgomery has a bit of that stuff.

But as far as attractions, Montgomery leaves a lot to be desired. There are no amusement parks. There are no major-league sports teams.  There isn’t even a nice city skyline, because there aren’t many tall buildings. (The RSA building is the tallest at 114 meters. By comparison, New York’s One World Trade Center is nearly 550 meters.) I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a putt-putt golf course in Montgomery.

Once you’ve attended a minor-league Montgomery Biscuits baseball game, you’ve pretty much expended all of your options. When TripAdvisor.com lists seven out of ten of the “Top-10 things to do in Montgomery” as being museums & memorials, you quickly get the feel for how little there is to do here.

One thing Montgomery DOES have a lot of is history. As one of the slave-trading port hubs, and later as a key city involved in the national Civil Rights movement, there is a lot to learn about both subjects here.

As a child, I found it difficult to take the initiative to learn about slavery and civil rights (outside of the plain-vanilla versions I was presented in public schools.) The subjects invoked such negative emotions, and I vividly remember my Grandmother sharing horrific stories about her experiences growing up in a segregated America.

Images like these are what I was introduced to as a child, but there are LOTS of other imagery about the South/Confederacy available to learn from.

Images like these are what I was introduced to as a child, but there are LOTS of other imagery about the South/Confederacy available to learn from.

As a rebellious youth, I educated myself only to the extent it fueled my disgust in history. But after awhile (and as I grew older,) reliving history became depressing. So, I pursued my life and family with limited interest in learning more about the behind-the-scenes of slavery and civil rights.

But it’s hard to push history aside when you live in it. Montgomery doesn’t offer much excitement, but it does offer a chance to learn more about history than they teach in nationwide public schools. Shame on me if I LIVE in Montgomery and don’t take advantage of learning more before I leave the city, right? I’m planning to soak up what I can, while I can.

I started with visiting the White House of the Confederacy museum. I expected to have those negative emotions resurface, especially when learning about those who fought to maintain slavery. But I was pleasantly surprised.

An early picture of the First White House of the Confederacy

An early picture of the First White House of the Confederacy

The museum does a great job of humanizing those who served the confederacy. Rather than viewing it as a collective of hate-filled slave-owners, the exhibit focused on the basic pride military service. Even though I personally disagreed with what the confederacy fought for, I could relate to the military/war experience displayed in the museum. I enjoyed reading the letters from Jefferson Davis and seeing photographs of confederate soldiers’ daily lives.

Jefferson Davis was from a family of cotton planters. The placement of a cotton plant in the museum, given its role in slavery, speaks volumes to all visitors. The museum tastefully presents truths without hitting visitors over the head.

Jefferson Davis was from a family of cotton planters. The placement of a cotton plant in the museum, given its role in slavery, speaks volumes to all visitors. The museum tastefully presents truths without hitting visitors over the head.

No doubt, the organizers of the exhibit chose the least-controversial items/letters to display to the public. (Let’s face it … A museum called “tribute to the horrific cruelty and violence of slavery” wouldn’t draw too many visitors.) Still, the White House of the Confederacy is a good example of honoring the sacrifices of the military man, independent of political bias. As a military man myself, I can respect that.

I’m eager to delve deeper into the history in Montgomery. I won’t hate on history anymore … Good or bad.

Montgomery has a lot of history. Some good ... Some not-so-good, but all of it interesting.

Montgomery has a lot of history. Some good … Some not-so-good, but all of it interesting.

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